Europe's refugee crisis will last for years: European Commission chief

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker (right) speaks to the media as he welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium, Oct 5, 2015.
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker (right) speaks to the media as he welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium, Oct 5, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN (AFP) - Europe's refugee crisis is expected to rumble on "for years", European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday (Oct 8), following a visit to a migrant reception centre on Germany's border with Austria.

"This refugee crisis will last a few years. I have no illusion that what we're experiencing now will soon belong to the past," Juncker told a conference at the border town of Passau.

"We have to tell people that this is not a temporary situation, but something that we will have to live with for years," he said.

Europe is struggling to cope with its biggest migrant influx since World War II, but Juncker stressed that the continent "can manage this".

Nevertheless, EU countries are split on how to tackle the challenge. Germany for instance has opted to open its doors to those fleeing war, particularly Syrians, while Hungary has built fences to keep migrants out.

In what was clearly a reference to Budapest's stance, Juncker said: "We don't need new walls in Europe and definitely not between EU member states."